The final Wednesday action of 2018's first half offers a full fantasy schedule, including several afternoon games, starting at 12:10 p.m. ET with the Tigers and Rays.
The Cardinals gain a designated hitter at the White Sox, and the Reds get a bat to cover their starting pitcher in Cleveland for the Ohio Series. The Blue Jays lose their DH, but might try to keep the red-hot Kendrys Morales in the lineup at first base or left field.
Don't overlook several pitcher options with less than a 50 percent stake in ESPN leagues who can wind up as longer-term options after the All-Star break.
Pitchers to stream
Jordan Zimmermann (R), rostered in 27.8 percent of ESPN leagues, Detroit Tigers at Tampa Bay Rays: Zimmermann's 2018 renaissance has happened surrounding a long injury layoff, but his 3.51 ERA, 9.0 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 say he's back. He can thank his sizable increase to a 10.2 percent swinging-strike rate and his reinvigorated breaking pitches that have brought him back into many fantasy circles of trust. The Rays come in at 24th with a .702 OPS and are tied for 21st with a .308 wOBA against righties.
Luke Weaver (R), 46.4 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago White Sox: Say what you want about his struggles during the third time through opposing orders (1.041 OPS), but he has a .699 for the first and .597 for the second. The Pale Hose own the lowest BB/K (0.25) and walk rate (6.5 percent) against righties. Sure, the addition of a DH adds a bit of concern for Weaver, but matchup seekers looking for whiffs who can take the hit in other categories can still cash in.
Vince Velasquez (R), 19.3 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets: As they possibly prepare for a fire sale, the sagging Mets have gagged so far in July with the second-lowest wOBA (.266) of the month. It's often risky to use pitchers right off the disabled list, but this would line up as one of the sweetest matchups you could have for such an occasion. Including the abbreviated outing in which Velasquez wowed with a left-handed throw after being plunked on his pitching arm, which eventually caused the DL stint, Velasquez owns a 3.86 ERA with 24 K's in 21 innings across his past four starts.
Pitchers to avoid
Gio Gonzalez (L), 84.3 percent, Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates: This might be considered a fine chance to rebound, considering he'll work at pitcher's haven PNC Park. Unfortunately, he's looked quite vulnerable lately (7.18 ERA, .913 OPS in seven starts since May ended) as his high-WHIP approach has backfired. Pittsburgh also ranks a serviceable 11th with a 99 wRC+ and 13th with a .732 OPS against southpaws, with surprising help from a left-handed hitter I'll mention later.
The Rays are scheduled to open with Hunter Wood who held the Tigers scoreless for 2.2 innings in Monday's series opener. Next up is unclear, but note that left-hander Ryan Yarbrough hasn't pitched since July 6. While Yarbrough hasn't recently been consistently going as deep into games as he did earlier in the season, he'd be working on four days rest.
That said, the Tigers handle southpaws much better than they handle righties, so if Rays manager Kevin Cash plays the numbers, it could be right-hander Matt Andriese following Wood. Andriese last threw one inning on Monday, but prior to that he hadn't pitched since July 4 and Tampa isn't slated for another bullpen game until Sunday.
Projected game scores
Sandy Leon (B), 1.1 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Bartolo Colon): With Christian Vazquez (finger) sidelined for at least the next month, Leon takes over behind the dish. He's hit three of his four homers off righties this year and has preferred taking cuts at Fenway Park (.767 OPS, compared to .628 elsewhere).
Yonder Alonso (L), 33.7 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Tyler Mahle): Mahle has allowed the highest wOBA (.396) and the most homers (12) -- along with tying for the third-most walks (33) -- to left-handed batters this season. Alonso has slashed .271/.342/.463 against righties in 2018.
Enrique Hernandez (R), 38.7 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres (LHP Joey Lucchesi): Hernandez's production against righties has grown this year, but he's still a fine piece to start against southpaws, with seven homers and a .785 OPS in 121 plate appearances. Righty batters have slugged .432 against Lucchesi, nearly 200 points higher than lefty opponents. Pitcher haven Petco Park plays slightly better for RHBs, as well.
Ryon Healy (R), 37.3 percent, Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels (RHP Jaime Barria): The fantasy community views the 26-year-old as a staunch matchup play versus lefties, but he also boasts a .500 slugging percentage against righties this year. Barria has wilted against same-handedness opponents with a .527 slugging, and he's allowed six big flies in his past five games. The 3.39 ERA also hides unsettling indicators, including an ominous 4.79 FIP.
Ketel Marte (B), 24.3 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies (RHP German Marquez): Marquez is saddled with a 7.93 home ERA this season. Five of Marte's eight homers have come away from Chase Field, and he's quietly rattled off a .298/.357/.632 slash, .406 wOBA and 157 wRC+ since May ended.
Brad Miller (L), 3.3 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Miami Marlins (RHP Dan Straily): Miller has seized starting second-base duties with a strong 14-game debut with the Brewers (.289/.360/.489 with two homers and eight RBIs in 50 plate appearances). Marlins Park favors pitchers, but Straily still has failed to quiet lefty batters (.357 wOBA, 6.0 BB/9).
Ian Happ (B), 36.1 percent, Chicago Cubs at San Francisco Giants (RHP Johnny Cueto): Happ has cut his strikeout rate each month of 2018, with his 26-plate-appearance July marking his best pace (26.9 percent). It's still a bit high, but this has coincided with increases in OBP (.297, .400, .402, .462) while he's kept his attractive extra-base ability (.985 OPS in July so far).
Austin Meadows (L), 32 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Washington Nationals (LHP Gio Gonzalez): During this strong start to his MLB career, Meadows is slashing .308/.368/.596 in 57 plate appearances against southpaws. He's in position to take advantage of Gonzalez's recent struggles.
Gerardo Parra (L), 18.5 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Shelby Miller): In his first three starts after completing his recovery from Tommy John surgery, Miller has absorbed a 9.00 ERA with four homers in 14 innings. Parra has deposited a whopping .342/.385/.478 line against righties and, while posting a better clip on the road, still effectively capitalizes on Coors Field games with a .286 average.
Harrison Bader (R), 3.2 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago White Sox (LHP Carlos Rodon): St. Louis continues to shuffle its outfield almost by the day, but the 24-year-old should earn a spot on the card with a lefty on the bump. Don't sneeze at Rodon's recent success in returning from a long injury absence, but Bader crushes this split (.302/.380/.524, .389 wOBA against LHPs).
Hitter matchup ratings
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth) as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively.
Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. For example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.